The Cuban sugar industry, for the first time in two decades, has met its annual target by producing 1.1 million tons of raw sugar during the current 2010-11 crop cycle, the official NNTV television said Monday.

"Cuba met the sugar production plan with moderate growth, while 18 mills are still grinding sugarcane," the NNTV television quoted an official with the Sugar Ministry Osiris Quintero as saying.

The 18 mills are "adding an additional amount of sugar" to the achieved production, the official said.

Cuba's sugar harvest period typically runs from January to May, when most mills are in operation.

"This time Cuba has better chances with the campaign, because of a longer preparation for the harvest and the availability of resources," said Cuba's Deputy Sugar Minister Adrian Jimenez.

This is the first time in 20 years that Cuba's sugar industry has met its annual production target as the industry had gone through major restructuring since the end of the Cold War, which led to a sharp decline in Cuba's sugar export to its socialist allies in Europe.

When the 2010-11 crop year began last November, officials said the harvest was expected to be some 1.1 million tons.

Out of the total production, some 700,000 tons are destined for domestic use and the other 400,000 tons would be exported to China as part of a special lucrative trade deal between the two countries.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Cuba produced more than 8 million tons of sugar annually. But international sugar prices collapsed to historic lows in the late 1990s, forcing about 100 of the island country's sugar mills to close and turning Cuba into a net importer of sugar in 2003.

Since then, the recovery of the Cuban sugar harvest had been hit hard in consecutive years due to bad weathers, particularly damaging hurricanes.

For centuries the Cuban sugar production accounted for 90 percent of the island's export earnings, but in the last decade the production fell sharply, prompting authorities to carry out new strategies to revive the industry.

Source: Xinhua

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